25 days as a tatted up woman.

Tattoos have always fascinated me.  When I was a lifeguard I saw a lot of tattoos and I learned something very important: If you get one be sure you take the time and energy to find an excellent artist and be ready to pay.  That is because one of the things I witnessed was how many truly awful, cheap, half faded or blurred tattoos are out there.

I watched piles of friends turn 18 and join the legion of the awful, cheap, half faded tattoo club.  It was a sort of right of passage, but for me it was a bigger commitment than marriage as it was on you for life irregardless of personal circumstances.

So I let that be, until the whole ‘flash tattoo’ craze hit.  I realised that temporary was my thing.  I could have an inspirational phrase one week, a little design the next, and then there was the bear hugging himself.  I love this one, but it always fell apart the fastest.


Isn’t that not the cutest?

But then came the Inkbox.

I know, I’m sounding like I’m building up to something here, and I totally am because this takes ‘flash’ to a whole new level.

I stumbled across them through the vast metropolis that is Kickstarter.  I watched and thought, “OMG (those actual initials) this may be it.  This may be that wonderful line between temporary and permanent that I’ve been looking for.”  So I backed them and then completely forgot about it until it showed up.

And then for some reason I left it sitting on top of the kitchen table for awhile because I’m absent-minded like that.  (Wait, it gets better.)

And then… then one day I finally tried it out.

So, here’s the thing for people not wishing to go to websites and do such things as ‘research.’  They use a very special ink that dyes the top layer of skin for a few weeks and, like a stamp or marker, fades away.  But unlike a stamp or a marker it gets just deep enough to look real.  For awhile they’d had bottles of the dye and stencils available and what the Kickstarter did was back a faster application.

Which, because I am a genius, I messed up immediately.

I chose to the Project Semicolon tattoo.  First, because it looked like something I could easily apply.  Second, because I liked the cause it stands for and third, because it was a simple enough design I could likely get two uses out of it.

I carefully read the instructions on how to apply and did everything to the letter.  I think the hardest part is applying the constant pressure for 15 minutes.  Thing is the application used to take an hour, so this was a distinct improvement.

I took a photo of the skin standing out in a semicolon shape and posted it to my Instagram account and waited.

While I waited a message came through my account from one of the founders of Inkbox.  I was completely taken aback that I would be contacted let alone contacted by a FOUNDER.  I wrote enthusiastically about how I was waiting and that I would post photos.  He was very nice and politely asked for me to give any feedback so they could improve.  This short conversation got me very excited.  I put on my science hat and carefully watched as my wrist appeared to not develop anything at all.

Fun fact, in the period of time that I decided to try out my tattoo they had changed their application video instructions.  And so, the next day when nothing appeared I went back to their website to discover I had not followed the instructions to the letter – I had actually forgotten to take off the top green layer cover that activated the ink.

Sort of important.

So I ran outside and rescued the package from the garbage (I had also foolishly attempted to throw it away) and carefully followed the instructions to the new video.

This is what  happened over 12 hours:


It was seriously cool.

I sent this picture over to Inkbox and they used it to show people what happens.  So I’m sort of famous.  Not as famous as my Tom Cruise post, but famous enough to feel special.  I helped out a small business!  In Canada!

Not only did I have what appeared to be a quality tat for 10 days, I managed to successfully apply it again…


While not as perfect, it served as a reminder to continue on that brutal but worthwhile journey that is the marathon.

So, if you are considering an Inkbox, here’s some stuff I’ve learned:

  1. Read the instructions and watch the video a few hundred times.  In my case, a few thousand.
  2. If you want to get one that re-applies, choose something simple.
  3. Oh, and if you want to re-apply keep the towel separate from the tattoo as I think that my second application wasn’t as perfect as I kept it with the tattoo and the shape of the die-cut had warped slightly.
  4. If you regularly swim in pools (as I have a son who we are fairly sure is the deposed King of Atlantis and if he isn’t exposed to water he turns into a demon) it will fade faster.  I’ve joked with the team there that Inkbox water wings will be an accessory offer they need to look into.

In total I managed to be tatted up for about 25 days.

I’m looking forward to what they come up with next.  Hopefully some colour?  I’m sure that will be super easy to do! (Writes the person with zero experience in development as well as chemistry.)

Any ways, thank you Inkbox.  My need for self expression coupled with my lack of commitment has been met.




Post-Marathon Blues

I can’t believe I’m writing this but… I am missing all the preparation for the marathon.

I’m missing the calculated mileage, the packing, the visualisation, the excitement.  I’m finding myself upset that it’s all over.  And even though I know that technically it isn’t, and that I should be enjoying my recovery period and thinking about what smaller races I would like to participate in, I am in a semi-mourning state.

I ran a really great race.  As I work in software I had colleagues walking up and telling me that I was bang on with my slow-and-steady mileage.  (Nothing like stats to excite a bunch of super geeks like us.) I couldn’t agree more.  Marathons are tough and you have to strategise in order to keep your energy consistent.  I achieved that.  I was sore when it ended but outside of a stomach that has been a bit everywhere this week (including into the leftover Easter candy) and a bit of IT band twinge, I’m fine.

But mentally, I’m not.

Here’s the thing, I know this is part and parcel of distance races.  I know that there are endorphin crashes and that you have to work through the recovery.  In fact, the reason I’m writing this is just in case there are others out there wondering why they are sad about it all ending.  Because this is one of the things that might happen and it’s normal.  You aren’t alone, and yes, it can even happen to people who have been running for years.

Enough with the sad emojis that are littering this post.  The way you recover is through kindness to yourself (and a bit of light exercise).  So…

I did things that made me smile this morning:

Oh, and for England, today’s weather looks like it may stay consistent with cold but sunny.  If anyone has spent time in England during Bank Holiday weekends it is usually rainy and miserable so I’m taking a moment to give a shout out to Mother Nature for keeping it beautiful.

I know these blues will pass and soon I’ll be writing again about all manner of silly things on this blog.  But I thought I would write a little about the things that people may not expect from running, that sometimes you can be sad.  And that’s okay.

Let me take a few seconds…

First, and most importantly, I made it around the course.  Here’s a photo of me in quasi-delirious state (with wild hair pointing out of hat to accentuate the point):


I even managed, through my mystery angel fabulous donors, to once again break my fundraising goal.

Honestly, I am sitting here a bit stunned that I actually did it.  I’ve completed three marathons.  Me, the girl who once finished a 12 mile race, crawled to her car, crawled into her home and thought, “I’m never going to finish the half marathon.”  Me, the girl who cried the entire last mile of her first half marathon.  I’m now a three-time marathoner.

Some important race things things – I did not have an emotional hiccup on the course!  Those who have read my tales know that it is pretty standard that at some point I cry, but I didn’t.  I worked very hard on my mental state this race.  I also worked on rhythmic breathing, which I literally discovered the night before and so want to work more on because when I got it going I felt like I could go and go!  I spent so much time focused on the breath I frankly didn’t have a moment to think of anything else… so it was like I was marathoning in active meditation mode.   My knee started acting up at mile 23, which meant the last 5k was walking, but I decided to spend it singing so in the end I was probably quite an entertaining thing to witness.

Some important other things – The marathon expo was way improved over 2013 – it felt like a celebration of running and fundraising, which was so much fun.  I scored an extra £5 donation for dancing around like a silly person, but I will not speak of my bowling skills.  Also, the support – wow.  I don’t remember so many water stations, gel stations, paramedics there to assist if you needed them (I didn’t, whew!).  It felt like London showed up in full force to make sure everyone had the best race possible.

And some super important things:

To my friends and family (especially the hubby and the kiddo) – thank you for putting up with me.  I was either out running, talking about running, or doing some form of other training to help my running.

To the National Autistic Society, wow, what can I say?  I felt like I had a whole extended family this time around the course!

And finally, I wish to officially announce I have retired from London… but not marathoning.  I know that people have gone years upon years wanting to run those 26.2 miles and as I have been blessed to experience this twice it is time for me to step aside and let someone else slot in.  As it appears I like to do this every 3 years shall we say Disney 2019?

I think by then I’ll just about have recovered.




A Pre-London Pep Talk

Right.  What you are about to experience is going to suck.

But you’re also going to love it.

How do I know?  Because this is my third marathon.

Third.  THREE.  I’ve done this, on Sunday, THREE TIMES.


And I can tell you, you are going to ride one heck of a roller coaster.  You will have moments of joy, moments of despair, and moments of crazy… and those moments could all happen all at the same time.

You may at some point be passed by a person dressed as a beer, or pulling a pile of bricks, or dressed as a beer pulling a pile of bricks.

Embrace that because that’s the London Marathon.

Embrace that what you are about to do is completely insane.  100% mental.  But comfort yourself in that there will be 35,000 completely insane people doing it with you at the same time.  You will be cheered on by hundreds of thousands of people in London and abroad.  You’ll all be headed towards the same goal together – to finish the London Marathon which is one of the top marathons in the world.

And when you finish (which you will) you can tell everyone you are a marathoner.  No one can take that away from you.  Not even the person dressed as a beer.

So count your gels, get all weird about what socks you are going to wear, and get ready to have some sort of crying fit at mile 22 – cause it’s on people.

It’s on.

Support my insanity by clicking this link.

Ran 12 miles. No John Barrowman.

After looking at the time between my 20 miles and the marathon I realised that it would be pretty close to silly to attempt 22 and then allow less than 10 days to be in a good place to run the 26.2.

So, I decided on 12.

It was a lovely run.  I ran by the canals.  They are lovely in the Spring.  Here’s a photo:


I managed to accidentally turn off my GPS at mile 4, so I have no idea how long it took me, what my splits were, etc.  However, I know it was 12 miles because I’ve actually memorised that much road/trail in the city.  This coincides with the fact that once you live in Oxford long enough you understand that driving in the city is incredibly foolish and running marathons make perfect sense.  In some cases you can run a marathon and your friend or family member can transverse 1.2 miles of Botley Road in the exact same time.

This is a fact.  Though maybe it’s really 1 mile.  So… plus or minus .2 miles for the sake of ‘wiggle room’ on this fact.

Also, Oxfordians are turned eccentric not because of the university.  Instead it is done through a process called ‘being stuck on Botley Road for 6 hours for no apparent reason.’

Also fact.

So, any way, because I changed my mileage from 22 to 12 miles John Barrowman and I didn’t meet up. I’m sure that’s the reason why.  Not that he’s based in California at the moment or anything.  Or that the whole idea of him coming to Oxford to meet someone he doesn’t know is a bit… weird.  But we didn’t meet up this time.

Maybe next time,  John.  I’m sure he’s crushed.  Likely oblivious, but I’m going with crushed.

14 days until London.

Post Tom Cruise (aka The Tom Cruise Recovery Period)

Tom Cruise in Oxford (last one, I promise!)

A video posted by @cmerritt42 on

(Props to Instagram who managed to cut me out of this video in the cropping phase.  They know who the real star is!  Right?!? RIGHT?!?!)

So obviously I need to give up posting about running as I’ve gone from tens to, like, a hundred people a day stopping by to read my blog post.  In fact, here’s a link to my first post as it will likely be viewed more times than any other post I ever post, ever.

I wonder if writing about running with Tom Cruise means I’ll get up to 150 views?  (I stress the word “with” as the whole stalker thing would be way weird and considering the shape that guy is in I wouldn’t be able to catch him.  I’m realistic in my fantasies, okay?)

I must say, though, there has been some fun things that have happened since the encounter.  First, I’ve gotten lots of random tweets from all over the place.  And I’ve been retweeted a lot.  I didn’t know you could retweet so much by so many and that there were so many with Tom Cruise as their icon or their wallpaper or in their name…

Second, I got into our local paper! So I learned it’s likely the Mummy that they are shooting.  And, as a former Classics student I can say if there way one place to film a mummy flick, Oxford is totally it.  Hopefully this mummy knows Latin because that’s all they speak in Oxford.  Nobody knows what they are saying, but they speak it a lot.  This is fact. Quidquid latine dictum, altum videtur.  No joke.

Third, I’ve actually been linked to SOMEONE ELSE’S BLOG.  That’s, like, never happened.  This person writes about monster movies and they complimented me!  Linked AND complimented me!

All I need now is a brief acknowledgement from John Barrowman that I might exist and I would hit the social media trifecta.  (Fact, until John Barrowman acknowledges your existence you are, in fact, a figment of your own imagination.)

And if I monetise this I’m then on my way to FFFF-internet star famous. [1]

Finally, the whole experience was cool and I’m glad of my part in it.  I was impressed that Mr. Cruise took the time to connect with people out to see him when, in all actuality, he could’ve chosen another path.  Like him or not that guy is 100% professional and I could tell he takes his very public job seriously.

So, thank you to Mr. Cruise for that on behalf of a looney runner on mile 18.8 of 20.  Trust me when I say I’m taking this one with me for the rest of my days!

[1] That link goes to the charities that I was out training for when I ran into Tom Cruise. So no personal gain here!  I run the London Marathon on April 24, 2016.




Ran 20 miles. Check. Met Tom Cruise. Check.

Oh, hi.

So, haven’t written in awhile.  I did this family holiday thing in Orlando (where I completed a 15 mile run as well as a likely 10k while hauling 4-year-old across the Magic Kingdom).  I have done plenty of core training via pole fitness.  I didn’t meet my 18-mile run goal but as it’s now pretty dang close to the London Marathon I thought “Eh, I’ve run 2 marathons already, so I’ll just skip to the 20-miler and all will be good.”  I rested all Saturday and looked at the pleasantly-overcast Sunday as the ideal day.

Oh, man, the pain.  I’ve got so much figured out, but my hips this run where so unhappy.  I had altered my run slightly to ensure I ran through as many pretty places of Oxford as possible to keep my mind off of it.  I had backlogged podcasts so I had plenty to listen to.  I had eaten bananas… so many bananas.

It was mile 18.8.  I know this because this was the point I pulled out my phone.  I was at the Radcliffe Camera, which cuts over to this really cool passage that I thought would be an excellent way to end (and also conveniently near a bus stop home).  It’s a beautiful area. Seriously, look:


Funny thing the area you see to the right of the screen was blocked off.  Some people with barriers and yellow jackets.  I immediately realised that there was a high likelihood of filming going on in the area.  There is lots of filming in Oxford, so I pulled my phone out and thought I would see about capturing some of it.  It would likely be an Inspector Lewis or perhaps a documentary… sometimes cool things like X-Men get filmed there and there was hearsay that Benedict Cumberbatch filmed at Trinity College not too long ago.

Regardless, the whole little event would get my mind off the pain I was feeling.  Not to mention the fact that my brain kindly reminded me that if this were the real deal I would be undergoing 8 more miles of said pain.

As I approached the Bodleian Library I saw a knot of people with cameras and the top of a head.  My first thought was, “Oh, wow, it’s John Barrowman!”


And so here is what is going through my head: “Why is John Barrowman hanging out in Oxford?  I mean, he’s actually Scottish but he lived in America for such a long time he’s never gotten his accent back.  Isn’t he actually doing a series in America?  Maybe he’s doing something here.  I loved him in Doctor Who…  Oh, I can get closer…”


“My husband is going to be so jealous.  Wow, he’s got a lot of security with him I didn’t think he’d have so much but that’s cool.  And he’s talking to people… funny… that doesn’t sound like his voice.  That sounds a lot like Tom Cruise…”


“Holy pile of expletives, that IS Tom Cruise.”

I had managed through some sort of will, or perhaps because I was at mile 18.8 and likely smelled very much like it that a hole in the barrier had opened up and he was working my way.  Mr. Cruise spent a few moments with every person and was very polite.  He also looked amazing.  I mustered every ounce of polite attitude and patience to make sure everyone who was there before me got their chance (it’s the British way).  He looked at me and said hello.  I told him I was out on a twenty mile training run and didn’t expect to see him in route.  His response, “Twenty miles?  Hey, that’s great!”  And then we got a photo:

20160403_171711Yep, the face of a guy who has made tonnes of successful films and looks like he’s 35 against the face of a woman who had almost finished her 20 mile run and looks like she’s 1.2 miles closer to totally insane.

Any way, two things:

  1. I forgot about the hip pain. (Tom fixed it with his magic.)
  2. I finished 20 miles.

Finally, I would like to invite John Barrowman to Oxford next weekend for my 22-miler.  In front of the Bodleian if you don’t mind because that is where I meet famous people. I’m totally sure he can do this.  And, if you can’t, John, I’m cool with a picture of you with a sign saying, “GO CRISTIN!  WHOEVER YOU ARE!”


Author’s Update:  My husband has informed me that currently John Barrowman is frolicking in a pool in Palm Springs, California, in red high heels according to recent Facebook posts.  As this is totally awesome I can understand if he cannot make my Oxford request immediately.  However, if he can make the sign whilst frolicking in red high heels my whole life would pretty much be complete.